Vice presidential debate updates and analysis

Vice presidential debate updates and analysis

Karen Pence flouts debate rules, takes off mask on stage

Pence vs. Harris: Four takeaways from the only VP debate

The gloves stayed on. The train never left the rails. The sparks never flew. And a fly that briefly landed on Mike Pence’s head may have been the most memorable moment of the only 2020 vice presidential debate.

The debate between the vice president and his Democratic counterpart was a return to more normal style of politics and a glimpse at what the 2020 election might look like without the singular personality of Donald Trump — or perhaps a preview of a future election between these same two candidates.

Harris and Pence proved to both be polished and prepared debaters who stuck to talking points and mostly respected the moderator and delivered more substance. And instead of the blatant insults and outright deceptions of last week’s debates, they deployed the more typical tricks of slick politicians: dodging, obfuscation and exaggeration.

Here are four takeaways.

Who won the Pence-Harris debate? Experts give their verdict

Two of the three members of an NBC News panel of debate experts gave the nod to Sen. Kamala Harris in Wednesday night’s debate with Vice President Mike Pence and the third called it a draw.

The highly anticipated face off enabled both candidates to lay out their ticket’s policy positions more clearly than last week’s chaotic first presidential debate, but fewer interruptions from Harris helped give her the edge.

Here are their report cards.

Pence vs. Harris: Four takeaways from the only VP debate

The gloves stayed on. The train never left the rails. The sparks never flew. And a fly that briefly landed on Mike Pence’s head may have been the most memorable moment of the only 2020 vice presidential debate.

The debate between the vice president and his Democratic counterpart Kamala Harris was a return to more normal style of politics and a glimpse at what the 2020 election might look like without the singular personality of Donald Trump — or perhaps a preview of a future election between these same two candidates.

Harris and Pence proved to both be polished and prepared debaters who stuck to talking points and mostly respected the moderator and delivered more substance. And instead of the blatant insults and outright deceptions of last week’s debates, they deployed the more typical tricks of slick politicians: dodging, obfuscation and exaggeration.

Here are four takeaways.

Desi Twitter, Black Twitter point out Harris’ disappointed auntie vibe

Harris’ facial expressions while Pence was responding to questions about the administration’s Covid-19 response were a hit across social media. And Black Twitter and Desi Twitter — the space in which young South Asians share memes, TikToks and relatable experiences — put their own spin on it. Many joked that Harris, who’s the first Black person and first Asian American to appear on the vice presidential debate stage, was giving looks reminiscent of a disappointed “auntie.” 

Here’s how Pence prepared for the debate

Pence held three more formal 90-minute sessions in advance of Wednesday’s debate, according to a source with knowledge of his debate prep.

The source, who praised Pence’s performance, said several people took turns playing the role of Harris: Scott Walker, Pam Bondi and former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. 

Per another source with knowledge, as part of his debate prep Pence had a call with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; another person involved in the prep was Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. 

Trump, Biden jump into their running mates’ debate from Twitter

Trump interjected on Twitter during the vice-presidential debate Wednesday night by accusing Biden and Harris of seeking to ban fracking.

After Pence said the Democratic ticket would ban fracking, Harris denied it.

“Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact. That is a fact,” she said.

Trump, in response, tweeted a video of Harris saying in September 2019, “There’s no question I’m in favor of banning fracking.”

Biden, for his part, responded to Pence after he accused the Biden-Harris ticket of seeking to raise taxes: “Let me be clear: A Biden-Harris Administration won’t increase taxes by a dime on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.”

Read more here.

Fact check: Pence claims Harris did ‘nothing on criminal justice reform for California’

Pence, during an exchange with Harris, claimed his opponent “did nothing on criminal justice reform for California.”

Harris, who served as the district attorney for San Francisco from 2004 to 2011 and as California attorney general from 2011 to 2017, has, in fact, faced a large amount of scrutiny over her records in those two law enforcement positions. But the claim she “did nothing on criminal justice” is an overstatement.

Critics have argued that Harris fought to uphold wrongful convictions, filed appeals against arguments fighting the use of the death penalty and robustly prosecuted low-level marijuana offenses — actions that disproportionately affected people of color.

They have also noted that she, while in those jobs, resisted numerous progressive reforms, like opposing statewide standards for the wearing of body cameras by police officers.

She’s also faced a chorus of criticism for her support of a law that threatened to put in jail the parents of children who missed so many days of school that they were considered truant. 

Harris and her supporters, however, have pointed to to her roll out of racial bias trainings, her advocacy for the use of police body cameras, and other reforms as evidence that she fought for criminal justice reform in California.

Fact check: Pence’s false claim about protecting people with pre-existing conditions

Harris and Pence sparred over health care, arguing over who was protecting people with preexisting conditions.

Trump “is in court trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which means you will lose protections if you have pre-existing conditions,” Harris said, touting the gains that the ACA made in covering more Americans. 

“Obamacare was a disaster, and the American people remember it well. And President Trump and I have a plan to improve health care and protect the existing conditions for every American,” Pence countered.

The administration hasn’t released a detailed heath care plan and hasn’t offered a policy to cover pre-existing conditions.

While Trump has long insisted that he and the GOP will protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing their health insurance, he has pursued legislation, litigation and executive actions to dismantle those protections under the Affordable Care Act.

A Republican bill backed by Trump included ACA state waivers that would allow insurers to charge higher prices to people with pre-existing conditions, potentially pricing them out of the market. It passed the House and died in the Senate in 2017. Trump has also used executive actions to expand the use of short-term insurance plans that aren’t required to cover pre-existing conditions.

Trump recently signed a symbolic executive order affirming the protections Obamacare created, but his administration is backing a Republican-led lawsuit claiming the actual protections in the law should be struck down.

Pence spokesman responds to speculation about VP’s eye

You probably saw something a little off about Pence’s noticeably red left eye tonight.

Some online commentators speculated that he has pinkeye, which can sometimes be a symptom of Covid-19.

Pence’s press secretary, Devin O’Malley, said that the VP tested negative today with a rapid antigen test and that he tested negative Tuesday with a PCR, adding that any speculation that the vice president has the coronavirus is “completely reckless” and incorrect.

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